As Others Do

The ultimate triumph of philosophy would be to cast light upon the mysterious ways in which Providence moves to achieve the designs it has for man, and then to deduce therefrom some plan of conduct which would enable that two-legged wretch, forever buffeted by the whims of the Supreme Being who is said to direct his steps no less despotically, to know how to interpret what Providence decrees for him and to select a path to follow which would forestall the bizarre caprices of the Fate to which a score of different names are given but whose nature is still uncertain.

For if, taking social conventions as our starting-point and remaining faithful to the respect for them which education has bred in us, it should by mischance occur that through the perversity of others we encounter only thorns while evil persons gather nothing but roses, then will not a man, possessed of a stock of virtue insufficient to allow him to rise above the thoughts inspired by these unhappy circumstances, calculate that he would do as well to swim with the torrent as against it? And will he not say that when virtue, however fine a thing it be, unhappily proves too weak to resist evil, then virtue becomes the worst path he can follow, and will he not conclude that in an age that is utterly corrupt, the best policy is to do as others do?

Donatien Alphonse François de Sade – The Misfortunes of Virtue

Imitation

Rest from inordinate desire of knowledge, for therein is found much distraction and deceit. Those who have knowledge desire to appear learned, and to be called wise. Many things there are to know which profiteth little or nothing to the soul. And foolish out of measure is he who attendeth upon other things rather than those which serve to his soul’s health. Many words satisfy not the soul, but a good life refresheth the mind, and a pure conscience giveth great confidence towards God.

If it seemeth to thee that thou knowest many things, and understandest them well, know also that there are many more things which thou knowest not. Be not high−minded, but rather confess thine ignorance. Why desirest thou to lift thyself above another, when there are found many more learned and more skilled than thou? If thou wilt know and learn anything with profit, love to be thyself unknown and to be counted for nothing.

That is the highest and most profitable lesson, when a man truly knoweth and judgeth lowly of himself. To account nothing of one’s self, and to think always kindly and highly of others, this is great and perfect wisdom. Even shouldest thou see thy neighbor sin openly or grievously, yet thou oughtest not to reckon thyself better than he, for thou knowest not how long thou shalt keep thine integrity. All of us are weak and frail; hold thou no man more frail than thyself.

Thomas à Kempis – The Imitation of Christ

The Church

“What is ‘The Church’?” asked Beelzebub severely, reluctant to believe that his servants were cleverer than he.

“Well, when people tell lies and feel that they won’t be believed, they always call God to witness and say, ‘By God, what I say is true!’ That, in substance, is ‘The Church,’ but with this peculiarity: that those who recognize themselves as being ‘The Church’ become convinced that they cannot err, and so whatever nonsense they may utter they can never recant it.

‘The Church’ is constituted in this way: men assure themselves and others that their teacher, God, to ensure that the law he revealed to men should not be misinterpreted, has given power to certain men, who, with those to whom they transfer this power, can alone correctly interpret his teaching. So these men, who call themselves ‘The Church,’ regard themselves as holding the truth, not because what they preach is true, but because they consider themselves the only true successors of the disciples of the disciples of the disciples – and finally of the disciples of the teacher, God himself. They accepted sixty-six different books as being the sacred exposition of the law of God, and declared that every word in those books was the production of the Holy Ghost.

Over the simple and easily understood truth they poured such a heap of pseudo-sacred truths that it became impossible either to accept them all or to find among them the one truth which is alone necessary for man.

Leo Tolstoy – Restoration of Hell

The Year of the Monkey

If it is something which is not in any relation to all things known, such existence can not be established by any reasoning. How do we know that something, which is not associated with other things, exists at all? The whole universe, such as we know it, is a system of relationships; we do not know anything that could not be related. How can that, which is not dependent on anything and not related to anything, form items related to each other and dependent on each other in its existence?

Is either unity or multiplicity. If there is one, how it can cause a variety of things that come from different causes? If they are as many as there are things, how can the latter be related to each other? If it permeates everything and fills the entire space, it can not create them, because there would be nothing to be created.

If deprived of all properties; all the things that arise, should also be free of all properties. So it can not be their cause. If it is different from the properties, how it still creates things having these properties and manifests itself in them?

If it is invariable, all this should also be invariable, as a result can not vary in its nature with the cause. But all the things of the world are subject to changes and decomposition. How, how can it therefore be invariable?

If created the world, there would be no changes or destruction, there should also be no sorrow or unhappiness, right and wrong, given that anything both pure and impure, would have to come from somewhere. If sadness and joy, love and hatred arise in all sentient beings, then he should be able to feel sadness and joy, love and hate, and if it has this ability, how can we say that it is perfect?

If it was the creator, and all beings would have to be its silent followers, how would it be useful to practice virtue? If all deeds are its formation, they must be the same as their perpetrator’s. But if grief and suffering is attributed to another cause, in that case there is something that it is not the cause of. Why, then, would not be without a cause all that there is?

If there is the creator, it works with some purpose or no purpose. If it works with some purpose, you can not say that it is perfect, because the purpose necessarily implies satisfying a want. If it works without the purpose, it is similar to a madman or an infant.

Aśvaghoṣa – Buddhacarita

Guru

Our minds have been conditioned from childhood to think in a certain way; we are educated, brought up in a fixed pattern of thought. We are tradition-bound. We have special values, certain opinions, and unquestioned beliefs, and according to this pattern we live – or at least we try to live.

And I think there lies the calamity. Because, life is in constant movement, is it not? It is a living thing, with extraordinary changes; it is never the same. And our problems also are never the same, they are ever changing. But we approach life with a mind that is fixed, opinionated; we have definite ideas and predetermined evaluations. So, for most of us, life becomes a series of complex and apparently insoluble problems, and invariably we turn to someone else to guide us, to help us, to show us the right path.

Here, I think, it would be right for me to point out that I am not doing anything of that kind. What we are going to do, if you are willing, is to think out the problem together. After all, it is your life, and to understand it, surely, you must understand yourself. The understanding of yourself does not depend on the sanctions of another.

Talks by Krishnamurti – First Talk in Hamburg, 1956

Peace

You must understand that point first: what is this world? You make 1. time, 2. space, 3. karma [cause and effect]. In three seconds, when you asked that question, you made this whole world. Physics used to teach that time and space, and cause and effect, are absolutes. But modern physics teaches that time, space, and cause and effect are subjective. So you make this whole world, and you make your time and space.

The Buddha taught this, and we can test it in our everyday life. “Everything is created by mind alone.”

First we need to understand who creates this world. Who? World means: 1. Time, space and 2. 3. karma [cause and effect]. These three things together make up the world. Where is the world? What is the world? Who creates time, space, cause and effect? Nobody understands, but we call it the world. Physicists say that the time, space, cause and effect are absolutes. Now they say they are subject; are your mind. If your idea of time and space is different, then the cause and effect of it will be different.

You have to understand the essence of Buddhism. Buddha said that all things are created by the mind alone. You create your time, your space, its cause and effect. If you do nothing, then there is no time, no space, no cause or effect. Your world is completely finished. My world is finite. But everyone does something, so there is a big mistake, and world peace is not possible.

So please everyone: for one day, do not do anything. Then one day there will be peace in the world. Excellent master said, a great way is not difficult, do not just divisions. Before each facing elections, so we have problems. Why choose?

Human beings do not matter, because no choice. If you make choices, you’re doing something. You create a reason, you create problems. Everyone does. He says things like: I like communism; I like capitalism; I like Buddhism; I like Catholicism, I like this and that. So everyone has a problem and is therefore struggle.

But you complicates your world. I complicates my world. Two, three, many worlds many complications. This world is very big, so it is all the more complicated. But if you see that your world is very simple, and I see that my world is very simple, the whole world is very simple. No problem.

Do you understand the world of the child? Five year old goes to the market and sees another child. First, they look at each other. They do not know each other’s names, or anything about myself do not know. But soon they go over to him and will talk. All children do that. But when they grow up will be: I am. Then you imitating me !, I do not love you. You’re not fine !, Why not? and will soon be fighting. That’s liking and disliking, which appears, it is like an atomic bomb. If everyone could do that to his inner “I like it” mind vanished, the external atomic bomb would not be dangerous. That’s liking-disliking mind is an internal atomic bomb, that it is the most dangerous. If the atomic bomb will dissolve if everyone finds his human nature, then world peace will not be a problem. Do you understand now?